3 Simple Strategies to Boost Workplace Morale

Think of employee morale like a stock. By investing in this stock, you will get a higher return on your investment.

Nurturing a positive culture is the first step to business success. There is a good reason why Google treats its employees as if they are God’s gift to technological innovation on planet earth. According to a Kissmetrics article, entitled Inside Google’s Culture of Success and Employee Happiness, Google provides its employees with free meals, haircuts, and dry cleaning. It provides subsidies for hybrid cars and massages. It offers nap pods and on-site physicians. It facilitates access to ping-pong, foosball, and video games, as well as gyms and swimming pools. And it even provides on-site physicians and death benefits to the surviving spouse.

Happy Google employee
photo credit: Marcin Wichary / Flickr

Google understand something that most businesses, large and small, appear to miss—happy employees are productive employees.

While your business may not have deep pockets like Google, there are 3 strategies you can adopt today to create a substantial return on your investment in employee happiness.

Strategy #1: Improving Manager-Staff Relationships

Nothing sours a corporate culture faster than a domineering, petty-minded, and mean-spirited management team. Unfortunately, this is the norm in most American companies because the psychological aberrations of upper management often go unchecked by company policy, so when you do things differently, your company will instantly win employee loyalty.

Here are three tactics to make this simple change.

Tactic # 1: Managers should smile more often. Naturally, a smiling more is not enough by itself; it should also be followed by other expressions of personal warmth like talking, joking, and informally interacting with employees.

Tactic # 2: Managers should criticize less often. A friendlier management team that stings like a scorpion at small errors in the workplace will be quickly seen as Machiavellian rather than sincere and caring. Criticism is the death of productivity. A raised eyebrow, a sarcastic tone, or harsh words spread like poison through a department. The stung employee will rant and rave, win sympathizers from other victim-minded coworkers, and bring the entire department down. It’s possible to provide feedback on how to correct a situation without demeaning someone.

Tactic # 3: Provide training and mentorship. Employees actually want to do a good job, but they often don’t have the knowledge and experience to do things well. Figure out what employees find difficulty in doing. If it’s a department-wide issue, where nobody quite seems to know how to use particular software or how to improve the quality of a certain task, then bring in an outside trainer and hold classes to upgrade skills. On the other hand, if it is just a few employees who can’t seem to get it, then assign them a mentor.

Strategy #2: Awards, Rewards, and Celebrations

Tactic # 1: Award those who improve the company’s bottom line. Awards are based on merit.When people achieve certain milestones in their career, these could be publicly acknowledged through certificates, trophies, and plaques at a special awards ceremony. Merit can be measured, and it should be tied to something tangible like meeting a sales quota or reaching some other financial milestone.

Tactic # 2: Reward those who improve performance at work. Rewards are ways to thank an employee for the time and attention they have paid to make a project successful. Rewards can include things like naming someone employee of the month, giving them a designated parking lot, adding a bonus check, or giving them a special gift like modern or traditional glass desks or ergonomic chairs. Rewards should be tied to gains in performance and higher accomplishments.

Tactic # 3: Celebrate employee’s significant life events. These could be a number of things like the birth of a child, a child’s graduation from high school or college, a wedding anniversary, or a birthday. Celebrations can be tricky in that there can often be too many, which will result in desensitization to endless rounds of pizza, ice cream and cake parties. Thus, it’s important to tie celebrations to just an once-in-a-lifetime event or an annual event. Graduation from high school only happens only once in a child’s life. Birthdays occur only once a year.

Strategy #3: Making Life Better

There are many ways to make life better for employees. Here are 3 examples:

Tactic # 1: Make it easier for employees to balance out their work-life balance. One way to avoid giving employees the impression that they are tied down to their jobs is to make it possible to arrange for shift exchanges. This helps employees create space in their lives to handle personal emergencies.

Tactic # 2: Plan employee work schedules around their biorhythms. Some employees are morning people. Others are night owls. By taking into account an employee’s Circadian rhythms, you will have happier employees who will work during their peak energy times.

Tactic # 3: Arrange for employee discounts with local merchants. Something as simple as a 10% discount at a popular delicatessen near the job will be a win-win scenario for everyone. Local merchants will get more business, employees will pay less, and you will look like a hero.

Micromanaging employees and setting up brilliant management strategies can’t even begin to compare with boosting productivity by enthusing employees with a vision of what’s possible and a mission to make things happen.